Barca Drop Points At Stubborn Bilbao
Teams: Athletic Bilbao 0-0 FC Barcelona
Date: 10 February 2019
Venue: San Mames Barria
LaLiga leaders FC Barcelona moved six points clear of second-place Real Madrid, despite dropping points at Athletic Bilbao on Sunday evening.
Ernesto Valverde started Lionel Messi despite concerns about his match fitness following injury while Sergi Roberto and Arturo Vidal were the other two changes from their last outing against Real Madrid in the Copa Del Rey on Wednesday.
The hosts were unlucky not to go ahead in the 17th minute after Markel Susaeta unleashed a curling strike from just outside the box that forced Barça goalkeeper Marc-
Andre ter Stegen into a superb save.
Messi came close to breaking the deadlock with a chipped effort that clipped the top of the crossbar after Athletic goalkeeper Iago Herrerin was out of his area following a save to deny Nelson Semedo a clear sight of goal.
The half had a lot of end-to-end attacks but somehow neither side could find the breakthrough, mainly thanks to the heroics of Ter Stegen.
The visitors increased their intensity and dominated in the early exchanges of the second stand but they could not find a way through.
As a result, Barca coach Ernesto Valverde made first change in the 63rd minute as Carles Alena came on for Vidal in a straight swap in midfield.
Inaki Williams, who had threatened all the night, nearly found the breakthrough for Bilbao ten minutes before time with glancing header at the near post that missed narrowly wide following a free-kick.
The Bilbao forward had an another glorious opportunity two minutes later, but Ter Stegen came to Barca's rescue with a superb to deny the striker in the box.
Blaugrana had half chances of their own in the closing minutes but they were not clear cut as Bilbao shot-stopper Iago Herrerín was largely untested.
The home side finished the game with ten men after Oscar De Marcos received a second yellow card and was sent off in stoppage time, as the encounter ended goalless at San Mames.